PAC-6 rivals Hillside and Riverside have a chance to make the NCHSAA 4A East Regional for girls an all-Durham affair this week.
Both teams were scheduled to be in Fayetteville tonight for the regional semifinals of the N.C. High School Athletics Association basketball playoffs.
Seeded No. 5 in the East, Hillside (24-3) was to meet the defending state champion, No. 1 Raleigh Millbrook (24-3), at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Crown Coliseum complex. No. 19 Riverside (19-8), one of the real surprise teams still alive in the NCHSAA tournament, was to face No. 2 Southeast Raleigh (24-2) at 8:30 on the same court in Fayetteville.
The winners of tonight’s game are scheduled to meet at 4 p.m. Friday in the NCHSAA 4A East final in Fayetteville. The East champion then advances to the NCHSAA championship game March 15 in Raleigh’s Reynolds Coliseum.
Hillside made to the Fayetteville regional by beating Wilmington Hoggard 67-48 and Raleigh Broughton 90-64, then winning a nail-biter at Southern Alamance 44-43 last Friday.
Riverside, the lowest rated seed still alive in any NCHSAA girls’ classification, had to win three upsets on the road to get this far. Picking up steam as they rolled forward, the Pirates won at No. 14 Greenville Conley 42-39, at No. 3 Cary 70-62, and at No. 6 Fayetteville E.E. Smith 76-56.
No other girls teams from Durham made it out of the NCHSAA first round. No. 29 Southern (11-15) lost at 3A No. 4 Union Pines by a 64-47 score. No. 27 Durham School of the Arts (11-10) lost 74-14 at 2A No. 6 Kinston, and No. 12 Kestral Heights (14-11) lost 43-37 at 1A No. 5 Wallace-Rose Hill.
In the NCHSAA boys’ tournament, Southern was one of two Durham teams to make it as far as Friday’s sectional finals.
Seeded No. 13 in the 3A East, the Spartans beat No. 20 Southern Nash 72-62, and No. 29 McMichael 79-59 before suffering an 80-79 loss at No. 5 West Brunswick. Amari Hamilton and Marvin Tillman each hit five 3-pointers in Friday’s game. But, after 20 lead changes, West Brunswick hit 10 straight free throws down the stretch to eliminate Southern (17-11).
In the 4A sectionals, No. 2 seed Northern was upset 64-63 by No. 7 Apex on Friday. The Knights ended their year at 26-2.
Apex advanced to the fourth round of the state 4A boys basketball tournament for the first time in six years thanks to a heroic, last-second jump shot from senior Majid Raji.
Northern’s Ricky Council II gave the Knights a 63-62 lead on a fastbreak basket with 16 seconds to play. Without any timeouts, the Cougars went to senior T.J. Evans, but he bobbled the ball – right into Raji’s hands on the right baseline. Raji immediately let loose a 12-foot jumper for two points that stunned the crowd in Poe Gym and sent Apex to the East regional semifinals against Clayton.
“I guess there’s a little luck involved, you know?” Northern coach Ronnie Russell said . “… That was unfortunate, but things happen like that during a game.”
Hillside (16-12), seeded No. 19, exited in the second round of the 4A boys’ tournament, falling 73-62 at No. 3 Clayton. Apex (20-7) and Clayton (25-4) are to meet in the East Region semifinals.
No. 12 seeded Jordan (16-9) lost a close game, 57-54 to No. 21 Leesville Road, in the 4A first round.
In the 1A, No. 4-seeded Voyager (20-10) was upset 81-76 in the first round by No. 13 Wallace-Rose Hill. No. 6 Kestral Heights (16-9) defeated No. 11 Raleigh Charter 55-40 before falling at No. 3 Whiteville, 63-56, in the second round.